Transparent Aluminum, Really — Thanks, Scotty

THIS is way off topic for us, but it’s too interesting not to mention. The news is from Oxford University: Transparent aluminium is ‘new state of matter’. Here are just a few excerpts, with bold added by us:

Oxford scientists have created a transparent form of aluminium by bombarding the metal with the world’s most powerful soft X-ray laser. ‘Transparent aluminium’ previously only existed in science fiction, featuring in the movie Star Trek IV, but the real material is an exotic new state of matter with implications for planetary science and nuclear fusion.

Here’s a link to a site about the movie, Star Trek IV, The Voyage Home. Back to the news from Oxford:

In this week’s Nature Physics an international team, led by Oxford University scientists, report that a short pulse from the FLASH laser ‘knocked out’ a core electron from every aluminium atom in a sample without disrupting the metal’s crystalline structure. This turned the aluminium nearly invisible to extreme ultraviolet radiation.


Whilst the invisible effect lasted for only an extremely brief period – an estimated 40 femtoseconds – it demonstrates that such an exotic state of matter can be created using very high power X-ray sources.

Professor Wark added: ‘What is particularly remarkable about our experiment is that we have turned ordinary aluminium into this exotic new material in a single step by using this very powerful laser. For a brief period the sample looks and behaves in every way like a new form of matter. In certain respects, the way it reacts is as though we had changed every aluminium atom into silicon: it’s almost as surprising as finding that you can turn lead into gold with light!

That’s all we’re going to copy. If you’re interested, click on the link to Oxford and read it all.

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5 responses to “Transparent Aluminum, Really — Thanks, Scotty

  1. Cooooooool!

  2. I wonder what Scottie got out of Professor Wark?

  3. carlsonjok

    Sounds more like someone took too much LDS in the 60s.

  4. John Pieret says: “I wonder what Scottie got out of Professor Wark?”

    I don’t remember much about the movie. They were all pretty much alike. But I think it was something about saving the whale. So maybe he got some beads and candles.

  5. I know what Scottie got out of that guy … enough plexiglass to turn a Klingon bird of prey into an aquarium. I figure Scottie has come back further in time and sold the idea again (or maybe just the beginning of the idea that the nebbish in the movie didn’t know about). I think we should do an audit of Professor Wark to see what he gave up.